Category Archive: News

Fixing the Pedestrian Safety Crisis

Mayor Durkan and Lynda Greene unveiling a 25 mph speed limit sign.

Mayor Durkan and Lynda Greene (Dir. of SouthEast Seattle Senior Center) unveil a new speed limit for Rainier Ave.

We can and must keep everyone safe on our streets. This morning, Mayor Durkan outlined four excellent and long overdue strategies to get back on track. Join us and send a letter to the Mayor and other elected leaders thanking them for their leadership and ask them act quickly to implement safer speed limits, redesign our most dangerous streets, and get Vision Zero back on track.

Act Now! button

memorials for traffic violence victims

We are in the middle of a pedestrian safety crisis.

In the few weeks since we first wrote that Vision Zero is off track in Seattle (12 people had died and 70 had suffered life-altering injuries after being struck by vehicles when walking and biking on our city streets, so far this year), three more pedestrians have been struck and killed in two separate incidents:

  • On November 27, a woman in her 60s, Jin “Kimberly” Kim, was hit and killed at 42nd Avenue SW and SW Oregon Street in West Seattle while she was crossing the street from her apartment to the grocery store.
  • On November 29, a driver struck four pedestrians, killing two people: Rebecca Richman, 28, a recent law school graduate, and her brother, Michael Richman, 26, an actor and musician. Their father is still hospitalized and Rebecca’s boyfriend was injured.

This brings the total number of people killed while walking or biking in Seattle to 15 in 2019 alone, making this one of the worst years in recent memory.  

A pile of flowers on the side of the street with a sign that reads: look out for pedestrians.

And these are just the people who have lost their lives on our streets. There have been many others who have suffered life-altering injuries such as a 60-year-old pedestrian still in critical condition after being struck on December 4 while crossing the street at Columbia Street and 4th Avenue downtown — the same intersection where a woman was struck and killed in January of this year. And over two consecutive days, two people on foot were struck by drivers and injured at Delridge Way SW and SW Orchard Street.

The strategies Mayor Durkan outlined this morning are excellent and long overdue — we welcome and applaud these critical steps:

4 Big Steps for Vision Zero

1) Safer speed limits: Safer speeds save lives. We know that Seattle’s arterial streets are where 90% of road traffic deaths and serious injuries happen. That’s why it’s so important that the mayor sent an easy-to-understand message today about safer speed limits: once the signs are changed, wherever you see a painted centerline (indicating an arterial street) in Seattle, you should be driving 25 mph, and wherever you don’t, you should be driving 20 mph.

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways has been working to reduce speeding for years. Back in 2015 our advocacy for traffic safety culminated in the city’s adoption of Vision Zero, the goal of zero traffic fatalities or serious injuries by 2030. In 2016 our Safer Speed Limits for Seattle effort led to all 2,400 miles of non-arterial streets being changed to 20 mph. This made a huge impact for people walking and biking on neighborhood streets, but expanding these safer speeds to our busy streets has been slow and piecemeal. We’re thrilled that the Mayor is now taking on a systemic approach, and are eager to see it implemented as quickly as possible before more tragedies occur.

Slow Down

2) Red light running prevention: Running red lights endangers everyone, so doubling the number of cameras that catch and fine red light runners just makes sense. Automated systems like this limit biases in enforcement (and an ideal system would also issue tickets based on income to limit regressive impacts on low-income neighbors).

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3) Walking head start traffic lights: The majority of collisions between people walking and driving happen at intersections. We applaud SDOT’s new policy to double the number of traffic lights that give people walking a head start next year, with all traffic lights to follow.

Three pedestrians, one with a mobility aid, cross the street holding signs asking for safe crossings.

4) Vision Zero Task Force: This panel of experts will ensure we treat traffic violence like the public health crisis that it is, and provide transparency, accountability, and leadership for Vision Zero. A Vision Zero Task Force comprised of public health officials, first responders, roadway designers, and advocates for seniors, the disability community, and pedestrians, should analyze each and every deadly crash to provide recommendations for how what can be done to achieve Vision Zero. Part of their work will inevitably be analyzing what can be done about emerging trends like the rise in deadly-sized SUVs and increased distracted driving.

A group of people holding a sign that reads: Seattle Neighbors for Vision Zero.

What’s next?

These are welcome first steps but much more remains to be done.

Communities along Rainier Ave S and Aurora Ave N, Seattle’s #1 and #2 most dangerous streets respectively, have been clamoring for safer streets for years. The planned redesign of Rainier Ave S cannot come soon enough after years of delay. And sadly, Aurora Ave still lacks basic pedestrian safety improvements like sidewalks and safe crosswalks for long stretches, which must be addressed as quickly as possible. The city can do much on its own, but the recent fatalities on Aurora Ave, a state route, must also be a wake up call to state legislators. Redesigning our streets is the most effective and equitable approach to keeping people safer on our streets and should be the center of any effort moving forward, while education, encouragement, and enforcement should mainly be supplementary strategies.

If we are truly going to make progress on Vision Zero, we must give the Department of Transportation the political support to implement best practices and innovate new ways to keep everyone safe on our streets—even when those changes are hard. We see today’s announcement as a tremendous step in the right direction. We will continue our work until every neighborhood is a great place to walk, bike and live — where no one loses their life or is seriously injured trying to get to where they need to go.

A protest at Rainier Ave S and Henderson in 2018.

Care about ending traffic violence? Here are three ways you can help keep everyone safe on our streets:

1) If or when you drive, maintain a safe speed (i.e., below the speed limit and suitable for conditions), and be alert for people walking and biking.  

2) Send a letter to the Mayor and other elected leaders thanking them for their leadership and reinforcing the need for safer speed limits, redesigning our most dangerous streets, and getting Vision Zero back on track.

3) Get involved in advocating for traffic safety in your neighborhood

Act Now! button

Together, we can help Seattle make the changes necessary to achieve Vision Zero, and make sure everyone makes it home safely.

Li Tan holding a sign that reads: Vision Zero!

4 Ways Neighbors Reclaimed Their Streets This Year

Franklin High School Students Engage with Neighborhood Plan in Mt. Baker

franklin mural

We worked with our partners at the Mt Baker Hub and created a well attended workshop for Franklin High School students to dig into Accessible Mt Baker and get engaged in envisioning the future of their neighborhood. This is part of a community driven effort to create a neighborhood that is sustainable, affordable, diverse, and thriving.We also financially supported students to participate in the creation four new murals (one is pictured above) by the light rail station celebrating the community and welcoming people to the neighborhood.

You can have your say about what transportation projects should be a priority in the neighborhood through SDOT’s online survey about the Accessible Mt Baker project.

 

Queen Anne Greenways Play Streets Are Seattle’s Largest

2019 queen anne play street

This summer, Queen Anne Greenways once again filled the streets with community fun at two annual Playstreets. The group closed a block of 1st Ave West adjacent to the Queen Anne Farmer’s Market to cars and opened it up for family fun and community building.

SDOT is working to encourage more people centered street events through their revamped People Streets Program.

Home Zone Work Party and Kickoff Celebration

Three people stand smiling while assembling a planter and holding a Home Zone sign.IMG_E8799

Neighbors gathered in Broadview for a work party and kick-off celebration of their new Home Zone! They got their hands dirty planting and putting out home made barriers made out of reused blue food barrels and zip tying signage marking the entrances to the Home Zone. SDOT has already installed speed humps in the neighborhood as part of the project with more improvements coming. The other 2020 Home Zone is located in South Park near Concord International Elementary School.

Read more about Home Zones, which are are a cost effective tool to make neighborhoods without sidewalks more walkable — it is a concept Seattle Neighborhood Greenways brought to Seattle in 2018. 

Claim the Lane for Climate

Following in the footsteps of a viral urbanism movement to usher private vehicles out of designated bus lanes, activists from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and 350 Seattle teamed up to #ClaimTheLaneForClimate. The group bike ride on 4th Ave through downtown followed by afternoon rush hour clearing of bus lane on Olive Way emphasized the climate impacts of a transportation system that prioritizes private car travel over more sustainable modes like transit and biking. And the activism paid off! In October, SDOT began painting red bus lanes, removing ambiguity and confusion.

 

These four stories are just a sampling of all the exciting things happening around Seattle. Thanks for caring and getting involved in your neighborhood!

8 BIG WINS for walking/rolling/biking and equity in the 2020 Seattle City Budget!

Because of supporters like you, we won eight huge wins for walking/rolling/biking and equity this year! Thank you to everyone who sent in emails and gave public comments, our allies at the MASS Coalition, and to the Mayor and City Council for their support in making our transportation budget represent our city’s values and stated goals. These changes are all one-time increases, but we will be back next year to continue to fight for needed funding.

Without further ado, here are the eight big wins:

african american biking on 2nd ave SDOT photo
1) Biking Routes: $10.35 million increase

Southeast Seattle currently does not have a single safe and convenient connection for people riding bikes to the rest of Seattle. This funding will change that, by building the Georgetown to South Park Trail, the Beacon Ave Trail, or a Martin Luther King Jr. Way South protected bike lane, or partially constructing some combination of all three! There is still more work to be done to fully bridge the $32 million gap for bike projects that were included in the 2019 Bicycle Implementation Plan (released earlier this year without allocated funding), but this is a huge step forward.

Walking

2)  Walking Routes: $11 million increase 

Walking and rolling is a fundamental right — but right now many people are unable to get around safely and conveniently in Seattle because of inaccessible or nonexistent sidewalks. The city’s budget added $4 million for sidewalk construction and $7 million for accessibility improvements like curb ramps. This is an improvement, but we also recognize that it is a drop in the bucket the 26% of Seattle streets that don’t currently have safe places to walk, and the need for a long-term, sustainable source of funding remains.

A rendering of Thomas St showing wide pedestrian spaces and trees.

3) Connecting to Seattle Center: $3.76 million increase

Everyone should be able to get safely and conveniently to the Seattle Center and the new arena that is opening in 2021, but right now there is no family-friendly east-west route. This funding will allow for design and partial construction of a vibrant, people-focused space on Thomas Street. This win was made possible thanks to Councilmember Sally Bagshaw’s incredible leadership for this project, and support from the Seattle Parks Foundation, the Uptown Alliance, and and many others. Next year the project will undergo additional design and outreach with construction anticipated for 2021.

A group of small kids walking with adult supervision wait at a crosswalk.

4. Safe Routes to School: New staff for Seattle Public Schools

Every child should be able to walk and bike to school safely, but currently there is not a single full time employee at the Seattle Public Schools in charge of making sure that happens. As a result dozens of schools lack crossing guards, and other traffic safety programs are run exclusively by volunteers (creating an equity disparity). Now thanks to the Seattle City Council there will be a full-time Active Transportation Coordinator to help the thousands of Seattle public school children who walk and bike to school arrive safely. Thank you to the School Traffic Safety Committee for their identification of this solution and continued advocacy and to Councilmember Mike O’Brien for the addition.

A graphic of hands reaching together in a circle.

Graphic Credit: Seattle Department of Transportation

5. Transportation Equity Program: $300,000 increase

Unfortunately, race and racism play a huge role in determining a person’s ability to get where they need to go in Seattle. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways strives to redress the historical and systemically-rooted inequities in transportation and city investments (for more see our our Racial Equity Action Plan released this year). This funding will allow continuation of the Transportation Equity Program, helping to identify and address systemic and structural equity issues. 

Duwamish Tribe City Council Budget Hearing 10.22.2019 Public Comment

6. Duwamish Longhouse crossing: $500,000

Right now, people cross 5 lanes with a 40 mph posted speed limit on a major truck route to get between the Duwamish Longhouse on one side of the street and Herring House Park, parking lots, and the Duwamish Trail on the other. Tour groups and school field trips are unwilling to risk the danger, which limits the Tribe’s economic and engagement opportunities. This funding will cover design (but not full construction costs) and is a step towards helping people safely access this important cultural and community center. Thanks to the Duwamish Tribe for leading this effort, West Seattle Bike Connections and Duwamish Valley Safe Streets for their continued advocacy, and Councilmember Lisa Herbold for this budget addition.

 

Three people smiling next to a planter box, holding a sign that says "Home Zone"

7. Home Zones: $350,000

There is a 1,800 year backlog to build sidewalks across Seattle. Home Zones are a cost effective tool to make neighborhoods without sidewalks more walkable. This funding will allow continuation of the Home Zone concept that Seattle Neighborhood Greenways brought to Seattle in 2018.

west-seattle-admiral-way-bike-lanes

8. Bike path maintenance 

Seattle city council has required the Seattle Department of Transportation to present a plan on the maintenance of existing bicycle infrastructure. Currently, maintenance is reactive and complaint-based, resulting in bike routes that are hard to use, unwelcoming, and sometimes even obsolete or absent. Additionally, routes in wealthier or whiter neighborhoods are often maintained better than those in other parts of the city. When SDOT presents their draft plan, we will push for it to standardize maintenance so that the program relies less on complaints and all communities across the city can have safe and well-cared for bike infrastructure.

A woman wearing a bike helmet stands at a microphone in front of a crowd of people holding signs, some with mobility aids.

What didn’t make it and what’s next?

We also had a few disappointments: We fought hard to increase funding for Safe Routes to School and to improve Seattle’s Complete Streets evaluation practices (Level of Service metrics), neither of which made it into the final balanced budget. We’re not giving up on these two campaigns, and will continue to push in 2020.

Please take a moment to send a Thank You to the Mayor and City Council for their support of these 2020 budget improvements by emailing jenny.durkan@seattle.gov and council@seattle.gov.

Appreciate our advocacy to make our city a better place to walk, bike and live? Please donate today to keep us fighting tomorrow. Thank you. 

A huge crowd of people stand outside City Hall at the Ride 4 Safe Streets.

Photo Credit: @4SafeStreets

Vision Zero Update Part 1: World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

This is part 1 of a 2 part series on Seattle’s current progress on our Vision Zero goals. Vision Zero is Seattle’s plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030.

Yesterday, Sunday, November 17, 2019, was the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.

We remember the millions of people killed and seriously injured on our streets as well as their families, friends, and communities. We also give thanks to the first responders and other people in emergency services who are faced with tragedy every day. This tremendous burden and loss is often seen as an inevitable byproduct of vehicular travel, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

A montage of memorials left on the street where people were killed showing crosses, flowers, white cutout silhouettes, and white bicycles.

Memorials commemorating people killed by traffic violence on our streets.

Here in Seattle, we’re taking this opportunity to do a reality check on pedestrian safety on Seattle’s streets. And it’s not looking good.

Despite Seattle’s commitment to Vision Zero — the goal of achieving zero traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030 — we are in the middle of a pedestrian safety crisis. In the first 10 months of 2019 (January 1 – October 31), crashes on Seattle roads caused 18 fatalities and 118 serious injuries.

A large group of people gather on a sidewalk holding crosses and flowers at a memorial for Maria Banda.

Memorial gathering for Maria Banda.

Of those killed and seriously injured, there were 12 pedestrians and bicyclists killed and 70 serious injuries to pedestrians and cyclists. I’ll say that again: A total of 82 fatalities or serious injuries to the most vulnerable users on our streets in the first ten months of this year, when our goal is zero. The breakdown, for those curious, is 63 pedestrians and 23 bicyclists. Note that this is preliminary data, and may not be a full count, and that we still have a month and a half before the year’s end.

These statistics have real human impacts.

And we know that victims of traffic violence are disproportionately elders, people of color, and those of us with disabilities, low incomes or currently experiencing homelessness.

Vedrana Durakovic had this to say after Maria Lourdes Banda, a Latina elder, was killed in a hit-and-run crash on Lake City Way this fall:

“Maria Banda’s passing [after the hit and run on September 30, 2019] has been felt deeply in the community and among her family and friends. Maria was beloved by all of those who knew her, and her passing has left a gaping hole in the community. Her presence was one of calmness and kindness, and those who were fortunate to have interacted with and known Maria, particularly her husband Agustín, are heartbroken over the loss. Maria’s granddaughter also expressed her grief over the loss of her grandmother, noting that “She was always someone who remembered everyone.” 

“At the same time, the community has also been grappling with feelings of anger and frustration, not comprehending how anyone could leave two people so precious to us on the road, and drive off. And it wasn’t until we contacted Councilmember Debora Juarez did we hear that a police detective was finally assigned to the case on 10/9, as the police had not been aware that the hit and run had resulted in a fatality. Concurrently, [Seattle Department of Transportation] SDOT had no knowledge up until that point that a fatality had occurred in the very spot the community had been asking for a crosswalk for years. 

“The community continues to feel Maria’s absence daily, seeking ways to commemorate her life and find comfort within the community which has demonstrated its strength, unity, and love.”

Jesse Gurnett's mother stands on the side of the street holding a photo of her son after he was hit by a car and killed while crossing the street.

Jesse Gurnett’s mother holding a photo of her son on the street where he was hit by a car and killed.

Our city streets are designed for speed, rather than safety. Remember that individual people making individual decisions designed our city to be this way, and we can make the choice to design it differently. And that these decisions have real impacts: four of the twelve fatalities took place in District 5, Seattle’s far north, which is notoriously devoid of sidewalks or safe places to walk, even along major transit routes and arterial streets.

A woman with three kids push a stroller along a street surrounded by cars. There is no sidewalk and they walk between a ditch and moving traffic.

The map below highlights the 100 intersections in Seattle with the highest number of collisions (2006-present). Seattle’s most dangerous street, Rainier Ave, averages a collision every day, and is clearly highlighted.

Map of the top 100 locations in Seattle with the most traffic collisions.

Click here to view interactive version of this map.

What Next?

Seattle Neighborhood Greenways volunteers are working every day on projects across the city to make it safer for people to walk and bike in Seattle. Sometimes this looks like new sidewalks, crosswalks, or other safe places for people to walk. Sometimes it looks like safe bike routes for people of all ages and abilities. Sometimes it looks like major policy shifts in the way our city evaluates our streets, or maintains our existing infrastructure. Our city is currently built for cars, but we can change that.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where we’ll lay out our ideas for the City to get Vision Zero back on track!

 

Special Thanks to volunteers Lee Bruch and Tim Ganter for tracking and visualizing data and holding the City accountable to Vision Zero goals.

Back to School!

It’s Back to School season! How are the kids in your life getting to and from school?

Did you know that 58% of students in the Seattle Public Schools District live within the school walk zone and are not served by school bus routes, yet only 30% of them walk and bike?

Particularly in schools with dangerous streets nearby, many parents who have the means to do so make the decision to drive their kids to school every day. The increase in vehicle traffic around the school leaves those kids who do not have the option, disproportionately low-income kids and people of color, in even more dangerous conditions.

Here at Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, we believe that every child deserves to be able to walk or bike to school safely and comfortably. 

If that’s your take too, we invite you to join our Safe Routes to School campaign! Click here to send a note to your elected leaders in support of Safe Routes to School, and keep updated on the citywide campaign!

AdjaAndDaughters

This year, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is working to address some systemic problems with both the Seattle Public Schools District and the Seattle Dept. of Transportation, including policies and processes in school planning, lack of communication, insufficient staff, and lack of funding.

We’re also building relationships with 10 focus schools: Bailey Gatzert Elem., John Rogers Elem., Lafayette Elem., Sacajawea Elem., West Woodland Elem., Wing Luke Elem., Mercer International Middle, Franklin High, Rainier Beach High, and Roosevelt High. We’re listening to school communities and learning what’s needed, what’s working and what isn’t. If you’d like to hear more or get involved in engagement with one of these school communities, email Clara@SeattleGreenways.org.

Speak up for Sidewalks and Schoolkids!

Thanks to your ongoing advocacy, the Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS) Coalition, of which Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is a part, included Safe Routes to School funding in the MASS Transportation Package. If it passes through City Council, we will have funding for an Active Transportation Coordinator to manage several currently ignored programs and processes, including the walking and biking school bus program and the School Crossing Guard program, which currently has vacant positions at one in three schools.

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We Need You!

  • Sign up here to receive updates on the campaign.
  • Share information with families and community members at your children’s school. Check out this one-pager.
  • Support funding for Safe Routes to School in the City of Seattle budget by sending an email to the Seattle City CouncilUse this form to support the MASS Coalition asks, or draft your own email to council@seattle.gov.
  • Send an email to your School Board Director highlighting transportation as an issue and Safe Routes to School as a solution. Find your director here. Several of the School Board Directors are up for re-election this fall — email candidates and attend forums to make sure that candidates know that you care about making sure kids are safe when walking and biking to school.
  • Spread the word about vacant School Crossing Guard positions in your neighborhood. These positions are paid, neighborhood-based, green jobs, perfect for those seeking local, part-time work.

KidsGroupWalking

Thank you for your advocacy!

Be well,
Clara

claraClara Cantor

she/her/hers
(206) 681-5526
Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

 

Fun and Safe Ways to Walk or Bike to School!

Are you looking to encourage your child and their friends to walk or bike to school this school year (and beyond)? Consider organizing a walking school bus or a bike train!

 

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A walking school bus — what is that?

A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school together with one or more adults, or older students. It can be structured in many ways, but is most commonly a route with designated meeting points and a schedule of parents or volunteers who take turns walking the group to school.

What’s a bike train?

Similarly, a bike train is a group of children who bike to school together, accompanied or led by one or more adults, or older students. Bike train leaders should have some bicycling skills, understand traffic laws and feel comfortable riding on the road.

What are the benefits of a walking school bus and a bike train?

Studies show that fewer children walk to school today than even just a few decades ago, and many children don’t meet recommended daily levels of physical activity. For many parents, safety concerns are one of the primary reasons they are reluctant to allow their children to walk or bike to school.

The walking school bus and bike train models are safety-first, by design. But they’re also fun, social, and active ⁠— providing school age children with easy, comfortable access to a healthy lifestyle, as well as improved skills for walking and pedaling safely in the city. Parents benefit too ⁠— they get to enjoy greater piece of mind knowing that their children are being protected by ‘safety in numbers’ as well as the presence of adult supervision.

There’s a terrific community-building aspect to these models as well. With a rotating schedule of parents or volunteers coordinating together to lead the walking school bus or bike train, it can be a great opportunity for people to meet other families in their neighborhood.

Did we emphasize “fun” enough? A walking school bus or bike train is a delightful daily activity ⁠— for both the kids and adults involved. Give it a try! And share your experience with us ⁠— contact Clara with your walking or biking to school stories: clara@seattlegreenways.org

 

Kids Crossing

 

Tips for organizing a walking school bus:

  • Check out your neighborhood walkability checklist, and the City of Seattle’s Safe Routes to School Walking Maps. Determine the safest route to walk to your school and map your route, including what stops are needed.
  • Invite families who live nearby to walk, and contact potential participants (e.g. school faculty and staff, law enforcement officers, other community leaders).
  • Test your route, noting approximate walking times.
  • Identify the number of adults or older students needed to supervise walkers and draft a rotating schedule. Download walking school bus leader schedules and information forms, and recruit volunteers.
  • Check out these safety training guidelines and determine what’s needed for both kids and adult volunteers on your route before kicking off the program.
  • Have fun!

 

A group of smiling kids riding bicycles down the street.

 

Tips for organizing a bike train:

  • Determine safe routes for biking to school with a City of Seattle Bike Web Map, and draft a potential route, including the stops that are needed.
  • Invite families who live nearby to bike, and contact potential participants (e.g. school faculty and staff, law enforcement officers, local bike shops, bike teams/clubs, other community leaders).
  • Pick a route and do a test bike ride, noting approximate biking times.
  • Identify the number of adults or older students needed to supervise bikers and draft a rotating schedule. Check out these scheduling tips for bike train leaders and other guides.
  • Check out these safety training guidelines and determine the safety training, skills and equipment needed for kids and bike train leaders before kicking off the program.
  • Have fun!

 

 

Happy walking and biking!

Li Tan Portrait

Written by Li Tan,
Safe Routes to School Intern
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

Big Wins This Month in City Council for the MASS Coalition! Next Steps 9/30

MASS SNG

BIG WINS!

Thanks to your advocacy, the first three pieces of the Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS) Transportation Package passed UNANIMOUSLY through City Council!

We have the energy and momentum to pass the remainder of the package by the end of the year — Save the Date for our next big push on Monday, September 30, 2:00pm for several important policy improvements for people walking and rolling. This second set of policies sailed through committee on September 20th, and will come to a full City Council vote on the 30th!

Champions:

Huge thanks to Councilmembers Mike O’Brien, Abel Pacheco, and Teresa Mosqueda for sponsoring these three critical pieces of the MASS Transportation Package, and to the rest of the council for voting to pass them! Thank them at:  Council@Seattle.gov (email) or @SeattleCouncil (Twitter)

What passed:

  1. A Bicycle Safety Ordinance making it harder for politicians to delay or delete bike projects.
  2. A resolution requesting full funding for Bicycle Implementation Plan projects, including the Beacon Ave Trail, Martin Luther King Jr. Way, the Georgetown-to-South Park Trail, the SODO-to-Georgetown connection, and two-way bike lanes on 4th Ave downtown.
  3. A resolution requesting that SDOT build off-sidewalk bike and scooter parking (in-street bike corrals) to ensure pedestrian access on sidewalks, especially for those of us with disabilities.

We’re not done yet.

We packed the council chambers and sent hundreds of emails, and together we showed the strength of community support behind sustainable transportation measures. Then, following the Climate Strike on September 20th, we filled council chambers again and spoke out passionately for safer sidewalks and pedestrian-first signal-timing. This second set of MASS Transportation Package policies were approved in committee. And now they move to a full council vote.

We need you on Monday, September 30, at 2:00pm as these important pedestrian policy improvements move to a full council vote. It’s people-power — your voice, your presence, your mailed in comments, that can move these policies over the finish line. 

Email the Mayor and Councilmembers now to show your support.

 

The MASS Transportation Package – Safe & Equitable Transportation for All

These are the first of twelve total pieces of the MASS Transportation Package — which includes policy reforms and investments in sidewalks, bus lanes, and bike paths that will help you get where you need to go safely and efficiently. Find out more about the package in this interview.

We need to connect Seattle’s diverse and vibrant neighborhoods, minimize reliance on private vehicles, create walkable and roll-able communities, and ensure safe and equitable access to transportation for all people, particularly for those who have been historically and are currently under-served. Please support the MASS Transportation Package.

Take Action:

 

Thank you for your continued advocacy!

 

Clara Cantor
she/her/hers

Community Organizer
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Website – Twitter – Facebook

 

What is the MASS Transportation Package?

Clara Gordon Susan interview pic

Susan Gleason, SNG’s Communications & Development Director recently sat down with Gordon Padelford and Clara Cantor  to learn more about the MASS Transportation Package they’ve been working on.

 

Susan: Fill me in. What is the MASS Transportation Package?

Gordon: It’s a really exciting package of policy reforms and investments in sidewalks, bus lanes, and bike paths that we are working with our allies to pass before the end of the year.  

 

Susan: So, what’s in it specifically?

Clara: Hah, a lot! For biking there are three pieces. First, as people may remember, the mayor’s latest bike plan leaves many critical bike routes connecting SE Seattle and SODO unfunded. This package calls for finding new, non-regressive sources of revenue, such as a tax on Lyft and Uber rides, to build those routes. 

The second piece was inspired by a Cambridge, Massachusetts ordinance which requires repaving projects to include any planned bike lanes except in rare circumstances. It will also require SDOT to present more holistic information to the public during outreach processes, rather than just how different street designs might slow down drivers — which in our experience has led to some bad decisions. So, moving forward we hope this will give everyone better information to work with. 

Third, it will require SDOT to get its act together around bike route maintenance. We know a lot of SNG volunteers have noticed bike lanes disappearing if lanes are not repainted at the same time as the car lanes are getting repainted, or if protected bike lane posts get hit by vehicles. That’s a policy failure. 

 

Susan: Is there a piece in there about bike and scooter parking, as well?

Clara: Yes, we’ve been working with Lime, disability rights advocates, and Councilmember Abel Pacheco to come up with a bike and scooter parking solution that works better for everyone. You might have seen the op-ed in the Seattle Times about that. Basically, we are proposing that the city build thousands of new bike and scooter parking spaces on the street, near street corners where car parking isn’t permitted. This will keep our sidewalks clear, give people more places to park, and also improve sightlines for people crossing the street. It’s a win-win-win.

 

Susan: What’s in there for better walkability?

Gordon: There are four components for pedestrians. The first one calls on the city to find additional funding to build sidewalks and safe places to walk like Home Zones, so that people don’t have to wait multiple centuries to be able to safely walk to the bus stop, the store, etc.  

But even when sidewalks are built we have to recognize that they aren’t always accessible, and in fact, the city has found something like 150,000 sidewalk hazards — ranging from cracks that people could trip on to overgrown vegetation. We’ve seen other cities, like Denver, approach this accessibility issue in a much more comprehensive way, so we’re asking the city to improve their program. 

We’re also advocating for a better traffic signals policy, so people don’t have to wait so long to cross the street, don’t have to push “beg buttons,” and other tweaks that will make it safer and more convenient for people to cross the street. It sounds basic, but it really will make a big difference to people’s experience walking around Seattle. 

Last, but definitely not least, we are advocating for funding for an Active Transportation Coordinator position for the Seattle School District. Right now ⅓ of the school crossing guard jobs are vacant and few schools have “walking school bus” programs. This position was recommended by the School Traffic Safety Committee, and we believe it will help bring new energy to these programs and make it safer for kids to walk to school across the city. It’s another small thing that we believe will have a big impact.  

 

Susan: Wow, that’s a lot!

Gordon: Hah, yeah, there’s a reason why we’re calling it the nation’s best transportation package! There is also a whole section of improvements for transit — bus lanes and spot improvements to make public transit fast, reliable, and efficient.

 

Susan: Who will this benefit?

Clara: Well, everyone. For people who are already walking, biking and taking transit, which is disproportionately people of color and low-income folks, this will make getting around Seattle vastly safer, more comfortable, and more efficient. For folks who don’t currently walk, bike, and take transit very much it will give them more options to get around. 

 

Susan: So how will it impact people in their daily lives?

Gordon: Great question. Each piece of the package that is passed will have a really positive impact. For instance, getting a better sidewalk repair program will mean fewer people trip and fall and injure themselves. People in South Beacon Hill will have a trail that opens up a new healthy and affordable transportation option that they haven’t had access to before. People walking along Greenwood Ave in north Seattle will no longer have to squeeze between dumpsters and fast moving traffic to catch the bus. People walking home from work won’t have to wait so long for the walk light and will be able to get to their families more quickly. And I could go on. This will make such a big difference, on so many fronts, it’s impossible to list them all! 

 

Susan: What kind of impact will this have on affordability and stabilizing communities? 

Gordon: We have to make sure that anything we’re building has adequate community engagement so that improvements can reflect the needs of the people who live there — one great example is the Georgetown to South Park Trail, which has incredible community support and input, right from the beginning of the process. And while we know providing affordable transportation options is important [Editor’s note: transportation is the second largest household cost after housing], we also need to see an increase in affordable housing and middle class housing construction so that everyone can benefit and stay as our city grows and evolves. 

 

Susan: Where did these ideas come from?

Clara: We’ve been working on these issues for years, we’re just now wrapping them together into an all-inclusive package. For instance, our campaign to get a better signals policy for Seattle has been years in the making — first identified by neighbors frustrated by specific traffic signals in their communities, who then led numerous walks with community members and elected officials, published articles, and now we’ve gained a lot of attention and are making moves. 

 

Susan: Who is supporting the MASS Transportation Package?

Clara: We’ve been doing a lot of the behind the scenes work to get it ready and have been collaborating with our allies in the MASS Coalition which is made up of organizations focused on the environment, transportation, and disability rights. 

Gordon: And, some components of the package have additional supporters as well. For instance the piece calling on the city to create a better sidewalk maintenance program has support from AARP and Sound Generations, who are helping collect personal stories about why it’s so important for everyone, but especially older adults, to have safe and accessible sidewalks. 

 

Susan: What has the reception been like at City Hall and at SDOT?

Clara: It’s been very positive so far — these are known issues and ones that people in all parts of our local government would like to try and fix. 

Gordon: Yeah, as often is the case, this is about making the “right thing to do” the “easy thing to do.” Overcoming the inertia of the status quo is tough. That’s why we’ve been laying the groundwork by doing the background research and policy development needed to make it as easy as possible for our elected leaders to pick up the baton and get these ideas over the finish line.  

 

Susan: What is your biggest worry about passing these pieces of legislation?

Clara: The timing. We are trying to pass a huge amount of legislation before the end of the year, and in September the city budget discussions start taking up all of the City Council’s time, pretty much until December. So, we need everyone to speak up now and let city council know that this is a high priority and they need to get this done [Editor’s note: Click here to send a message to your elected leaders]. 

 

Susan: What gives you hope for this effort? 

Clara: Our amazing volunteers. 

Gordon: Absolutely, and we also couldn’t do it without our allies, and I also want to give a shout out to Clara who has been doing an incredible amount of the behind-the-scenes organizing around the policy development. 

 

Susan: Last question, what should people do if they have more questions or want to get involved?

Clara: People can check out the policy brief, which has one-pagers for each piece of legislation [click here], or they can email me [Clara@seattlegreenways.org] to get more involved. And don’t forget to send a message to the Mayor and City Council to urge their support! [Click here to send a message to your elected leaders]

Act now to pass the nation’s best transportation package!

MASS SNG

Get Ready for Action to Move All Seattle Sustainably!

We’ve been waiting years to pass legislation this exciting. We don’t know what the Seattle City Council will look like next year, so we’re working with allies to pass the nation’s best transportation package now — see below for more details. You can make it happen.

Please take a moment to send the Mayor and Seattle City Council an email asking them to support the MASS Transportation package.

The MASS Transportation Package includes policy reforms and investments in sidewalks, bus lanes, and bike paths that will help you get where you need to go safely and efficiently.

For our climate, public health, and equity, our city urgently needs:  

  • Faster and more reliable buses: How often is your bus stuck in gridlock? This package calls for a robust network of bus priority corridors connecting Seattle’s neighborhoods to make public transit fast, reliable, and efficient.
  • Convenient and comfortable bike connections: Seattle doesn’t currently have safe, efficient bike routes connecting SE Seattle and SODO to the rest of the city. This package will fund and build these key connections, improve maintenance of existing bike lanes, and make it harder for the city to cancel planned bike lanes.
  • Accessible and safe sidewalks and crosswalks: Our sidewalks are crumbling, our signals too often prioritize cars over everyone else, and, at the current funding rate, it will take hundreds of years to build sidewalks where they are missing. This package will enhance the sidewalk repair program, build more sidewalks along dangerous streets, adopt a signals policy that puts people first, keep sidewalks clear of obstructions, and help ensure that our kids have safe routes to school.

We need to connect Seattle’s diverse and vibrant neighborhoods, minimize reliance on private vehicles, create walkable and roll-able communities, and ensure safe and equitable access to transportation for all people, particularly for those who have been historically and are currently underserved. Please support the MASS Transportation Package 2019

Please take a moment to send the Mayor and Seattle City Council an email.

Thank you for your continued advocacy!

Best part of my bike commute? The smells.

BikeRiderCitySceneWithBus (2)

 

By Tom Lang, co-leader of Green Lake & Wallingford Safe Streets

 

One of the best parts of commuting by bike is whizzing past a long line of cars stuck in traffic. I love that. But—hands down⁠—⁠the very best part of my commute is the smells.

Once upon a time, not too long ago, my commute from the far side of Fremont to the U District was along the Burke Gilman Trail⁠—a safe, comfortable and flat bike ride. Some mornings, I would get to see a sunrise over Lake Washington, framed by the Aurora Bridge. Most afternoons, I saw rollerbladers, joggers, and families outside enjoying the day.

 

On Monday and Wednesday mornings, I would be treated to both rich, chocolaty smells and fragrant hops …

 

I also passed by the Theo Chocolate Factory and Fremont Brewing. On Monday and Wednesday mornings, I would be treated to both rich, chocolaty smells and fragrant hops being turned into delicious beers. Most days, it was the highlight of my day.

The North Seattle Transfer Station was also on the route, so I also enjoyed whiffs of garbage and stinky things. But for most of the five years between 2011 and 2016, the Transfer Station was closed for renovation. And the re-opened station does a much better job of containing the trash smells.

 

tsue-chong-300x225

 

I recently traded in my commute for a downtown slog, through traffic and past parked cars, up hills and into Little Saigon. But, here too, there are smells to be grateful for. I pass the Tsue Chong fortune cookie factory in the morning (that distinctively  sweet smell reminding me of birthday dinners past) and several blocks of Vietnamese restaurants, with mouth-watering aromas of garlic and fish sauce. On the way home, I pass Pagliacci Pizza, where I try to forget about all the other surrounding smells of diesel and oil and just…focus…on…the…pizza for at least a few minutes each day.

 

Do other people have an olfactorily-blessed bike commute?

 

I sometimes wonder if I’m alone in appreciating the smells of my commute. Do other people have an olfactorily-blessed bike commute? What kinds of things am I missing out on? Where should I move to in order to maximize my convenience-to-smelliness ratio? I NEED TO KNOW.

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